International actions back Japanese union.
Trade unionists in countries visited by Dowa Line ships are taking action today in support of the All-Japan Seamen"s Union (JSU) which is being sued by the shipping company. The attempt to muzzle the union in the courts follows a rally called by the JSU in September 2009 outside Dowa"s Tokyo headquarters that called for improved working conditions for seafarers on board its vessels and protested against its anti-union stance.
The JSU"s concern, backed by the ITF and its affiliated unions, has long been that, unlike the majority of crews on Japanese-owned ships, those on Dowa Line vessels are not covered by any internationally recognised collective bargaining agreement.
In protest at Dowa"s launching of this legal action against the JSU a joint seafarers" and dockers" rally will be held outside its Tokyo offices tomorrow, while in Trinidad, a major Dowa destination, ITF representatives and the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) will rally in support of their colleagues in Japan. ITF personnel are in Trinidad and Tobago this week meeting with the government there and with SWWTU President General Senator Michael Annisette, who is backing the efforts to defend the JSU and persuade Dowa Line to come to the negotiating table.
Meanwhile in ports in the US and Caribbean ITF inspectors will continue to monitor Dowa vessels and will be sending letters to the company reiterating the ITF"s stance that it is time for the company to recognise its social responsibilities and drop its anti-trade union outlook. Inspectors and fellow trade unionists will also seek to raise their concerns with the company, with the public, and with the Government of Japan, building on a visit made earlier this week to the Japanese Consulate in Oregon.
Graham Young, ITF Head of Maritime Operations, commented: ?The JSU has long pushed the case for dialogue and trade union representation to Dowa, and we"re sorry that Dowa has reached out not for the offer of talks but instead for the courts.?
?Dowa"s reluctance to negotiate with the JSU is in stark contrast with the vast majority of Japanese owners and operators using flags of convenience, and whose vessels are covered by ITF-approved agreements guaranteeing minimum standards for their crews. As the unions have pointed out, Dowa Line risks undermining the principles of dialogue between employers that we believe is an essential part of fair global trade ? endangering decent wages and conditions and making it more difficult to maintain hard-won high standards on other companies" fleets.?
Dowa Line is a Japanese company with a fleet of 24 bulk and cargo vessels, most of which fly the Panamanian flag and operate in the Caribbean and to North and South America. Its vessels are managed by Hiong Guan Navegacion Co Ltd, a company registered at the same address as Dowa in Japan. Dowa vessels are crewed by Filipino seafarers. Although the great majority of crews working on Japanese-owned ships registered under flags of convenience are covered by ITF agreements, Dowa Line has repeatedly rejected the idea of having such agreements on board its vessels.